[17 August 2008]
It might be easy to sleep on Matthew Perryman Jones. The Nashville resident has organically built a steady following through the undeniable strength of his soul-baring live performances and the quality of his songcraft. To embrace Jones would have taken the effort to investigate what can be rewarding about an under-the-radar artist.But, to listen to Jones’ third full-length is to know that his talent can’t be ignored. A songwriter’s songwriter with a voice that sounds as if he was raised on U2, there is both a grand presence about the artist and the intimate familiarity of an old friend.
Swallow the Sea reconciles Jones’ great charisma and his great tenderness. Tracks like “Don’t Fall In Love”, the title track and a wholly modern take on the timeless “Motherless Child” are awash with pure waves of emotion, dynamic crescendos and moody yet melodic guitars. Some of the album’s best cuts, however, tread more gently and simply. Perhaps the record’s crowning achievement is the buoyant “When It Falls Apart”, a mix of Beatle-esque joie de vivre and a more modern folk rock palette. Other tunes like “Save You” prove that Jones can even do a cinematic power ballad without it sounding paint-by-numbers (in fact the song approximates the tenor of U2’s “Bad” while maintaining some adult contemporary cred).
With songs like these, delivered both with power and grace, Jones’ solid fanbase looks ready to explode. Fortunately, he seems the type of artist who could rise like a meteor with losing what made him special in the first place.